Today is release day for Iscariot by Tosca Lee. I’m been eagerly anticipating its release since hearing about last year. Tosca is the esteemed author of Demon and Havah plus she co-authored, with Ted Dekker, the three “Books of Mortals”: Forbidden, Mortal and Sovereign (releasing May 2013).
I joined Tosca’s tribe, the “Midnight Garden”, which, amongst many fun interactions, has assisted in helping promote Iscariot. Tosca has been an active participant in the Facebook forum, posting multiple times each day and night. It’s been a wonderful insight into watching the machinations of a book as it nears launch. In addition, the build-up and anticipation for the release has been exciting to experience.
Many of us in the Midnight Garden (MG) prepared questions for Tosca, which she very generously answered. I’ve selected a handful of those questions from various “luminaries” (as we are affectionately known by Tosca) including myself to feature below.
MG: What led you to write a novel about Judas Iscariot?
Tosca: I really owe the idea to Jeff Gerke, the editor who acquired and published both Demon and Havah, because he’s the one who suggested it. My initial reaction: to run fast and hard in the other direction. I KNEW how much work a book about the disciples and Jesus, set in first Century Israel would be. I completely avoided the idea for almost a year before finally realizing I was obsessed with it, and a goner.
MG: Has the research for and the writing of this book affected you in any way? If so, how?
Tosca: Yes–it has really given context and nuance to the stories that I grew up reading in my Bible. As a free, modern American, it’s really impossible to have a full understanding of the biblical account–even the parables–without putting yourself in the sandals of a first Century Jew living under Roman rule. It’s also given me a new appreciation of this maverick, even dangerous paradox of a man called Jesus.
MG: What all went into the writing of Iscariot?
Tosca: A lot of time–about three years. A lot of words–217,000 on the first draft. A lot of kicking and flailing and hair-pulling. A lot of prayer and wonder.
MG: What do you hope that readers will walk away with after reading Iscariot?
Tosca: A new sense of who Jesus was and is.
MG: How did your opinion of Judas change after writing the novel?
Tosca: Ian–Through the writing of the novel, Judas went from being an intriguing infamous character to a lens on the first Century Jewish Everyman… to an Everyman I identified with closely. I was writing my story, ultimately–a story about the tension between love and grace, and our expectations of a God that cannot be controlled. And so the central question became for me: would I have done the same? And the answer is I can’t say that, in the situation, I wouldn’t have.
MG: And how can you relate our experience as disciples to Judas’?
Tosca: Ian–I think it was Baarth who said that all the disciples failed, really. Judas’ was just the most spectacular failure. I don’t think we always understand or expect what God means for us or what God is doing at the time, and we forget that it’s usually something bigger than we could imagine. I should add, too, that Jesus talked a great deal about how to live, and how to live included a lot of mercy and love. I think we, like the 12 disciples, can get very caught up in the intricacies of faith, in seeking answers, but the biggest answers always seem to boil down to being filled with love and mercy.
I’m now waiting for the novel to make it’s way down under. The order has been placed on Amazon and I look forward to sharing my review of it with you all in due course.
Here’s the latest Trailer for the novel to further whet your appetite. And may I encourage you to hang out for a little while at Tosca’s very groovy website, which has recently had a spectacular makeover.